I have discovered that the days I truly do not enjoy are the transit days. I was trying to start off on a positive note there because in reality I fucking despise them. Whether it be a bus, a plane, a train, whatever it is, if I am moving from A to B then they are my least favourite days. It is the time when I yearn for another adult, and really feel that I am on my own with two young kids dependent on me. Archie and Rissie hate moving days as much as me. Rissie was weepy before we even left asking as to why we had to catch a bus in Costa Rica again. From the moment I know there is anxiety with the kids, I then transform into an annoying Pollyanna mummy. Nothing phases me, whenever they express an anxiety I calmly answer it so they can worry less. I plaster this stupid ridiculous smile on my face that by the end of the day hurts so badly that the only thing that I think can ease the pain is straight vodka. When Archie asks me if I know where I am going I respond with, "of course I do buddy, and if not I will just ask." In reality I am thinking, "Oh for fuck's sake, I have no idea if this is the right fucking bus and it doesn't matter anyway as I have no idea where our stop is or how to ask anyone to stop the fucker anyway. We are never, ever going to fucking get there." I pat him on the shoulder and smile so hard I am sure it makes my gums bleed.
Then Rissie will pipe up with her bottom lip trembling, "How can you ask mummy, when you don't speak any Spanish." I smile at her so sweetly and respond with, "I wrote some phrases down so we are all good Riss." In reality I imagine drop kicking her out of the back window of the bus as I hate people who state the bleeding obvious. If I don't know how to ask someone how to stop the bus, then how the fuck am I going to ask directions. And if I do manage to ask directions then I won't fucking understand the question anyway. I was so ready this Tuesday I was smug. I was packed, I even posted a photo of our packed backpacks on Social Media, they looked so organised. We left early and had heaps of time. Of course 5 minutes away from the bus station I was alerted to the fact that I had forgotten the kids medication for the duration of the trip and it was sitting back in the fridge in our apartment. I did everything in my power not to drop kick Archie out of the car as well, as he had been designated as the person in charge of doing the final check of the apartment. Marga, the lovely owner from where we were staying in Esterillos suddenly turned into some sort of speed demon. This amazing lady told us she would get us to the bus on time, did a u-turn and started hooning down the highway like a deranged bat out of hell. I suspect the three of us were white knuckling it for the duration of the trip. Some 45 minutes later we were back at the bus station and I was sweating from every orifice and wondering if everyone else could smell me.
The direct bus to Atenas turned out not to exist. So we were directed to a bus to Orotina where we would connect to Atenas. Marga tried to get the bus driver to open the luggage compartment for us but he said no and indicated that we could hold the packs above our heads. I wanted to ask him if he wanted to try holding my fucking backpack above his head when Rissie fell face first in the aisle of the bus and I knew that there would soon be tears. We found seats, I tried to ignore the glares from people as our packs were taking up a seat, I had stacked them one on top of another so in reality we were only taking up one extra seat and I chose to ignore them. Rissie started silently weeping and asked me how long would this bus take. I guessed a number that would not freak her out and prayed to the unicorn in the sky to please make it true. And we were off. About 90 minutes later we were pulling into Orotina and we miraculously find the next bus station for Atenas. I was rather proud of myself when I got the lady to write down the time of the next bus for Atenas and I amused the kids for the duration with some crap food which seemed to stop the tears and the stressing whilst I sat there and wondered, as I am prone to do on transit days, what the fuck was I doing with my life.
I reassured the kids that the next bus would be the last one and that I would find out when the stop for Atenas was. I did this by asking the lady in front of me at every stop, "Atenas?" to which she would shake her head. By the time we got to Atenas, some 45 minutes later about 9 people turned around and said Atenas several times in a way that made me feel like they were glad that this was finally the fucking stop for Atenas. When we got off the bus, I realised that my phone was not working. As I rarely use it, it might have been out for a while, maybe a week or two I am not sure. But my dodgy sim was not being cooperative. A phone was fairly vital as I only had the phone number of the owner of our next lodgings, no address or any other details. We were pointed in the direction of a telefono and I was rather chuffed to get to the town plaza and see it had public phones on every corner. Naturally none of them worked and I was sweating again and the kids were looking at me like I was a plonker. That is not being honest. Archie was looking at me like I was a plonker. Rissie was looking at me like I was a fucktard.
I had one last option left and that was to communicate with someone. So I stopped a nice young man, somehow managed to tell him my Espanol was crap, my phone was fucked and I really needed to borrow his phone. He made the phone call for me and I left a message for the owner as he did not appear to be answering his phone. Once again I smiled at the kids and gave them a big thumbs up to show them how awesome I was. I think we had been sitting there for about 15 minutes just as I was contemplating sleeping in the park, when our lovely owner arrived and we were taken home.
Our Casita is amazing. It is a veritable palace and I feel like we have lucked out here. I have a bedroom. The kids have their own beds. It is the height of luxury. We are down a dirt road about a 12 minute walk from the road and though there are houses around, in front of us all you can see is the mountains and in the distance the volcanoes.
It is funny, as we were coming up the range it reminded me of coming home. There is a point somewhere along the Bruxner Highway, where you leave the coast behind you and the world changes a little, you know you are nearing Tentefield and the world transforms into New England. It happens somewhere at the top of the range but I am not exactly sure where. The temperature drops and I always breathe a sigh of relief to know that I am almost home. Atenas reminded me of home. Maybe I was just melancholy, which is apparently common around the 12 week mark of a big trip, or maybe, genuinely it reminded me of the sweetness of home. For a moment I was overwhelmed by the thoughts of my little cottage, the lemon tree, the magic faraway tree and the smell of Kevin and Rosie. It made me feel both sad and happy that somewhere so foreign could feel so familiar.
It is amazing after our month of being hermit beach bums that the little town of Atenas feels a bit like a thriving metropolis. Everything is centred around the beautiful old town plaza. There is traffic, there are two cafes with english lending libraries and there is our little community centre where we will be volunteering. We did our first trial run today assisting with a class of 7 kids of about 4 - 8 years old. I thought I was doing exceedingly well but Archie and Rissie could not stop pissing themselves laughing on the way home as they informed me that all the kids were looking at me like I was stupid. Thanks Archie and Rissie. I carried you for 9 months and I am no longer buying you any more ice-cream. See how hard you laugh tomorrow you little cretins.
I have also enrolled us in Spanish classes. So from next week we will better be prepared to start understanding better the lingo. I have met more people in the last 4 days than I did in a month and I am finding it at times a little overwhelming. Luckily we can come home to our Casita, down that long dirt road and sit on our back step and watch the mountains be lost in the afternoon rains and mist. I think we are going to like our new little mountain home.